Stephen Fahey: Special Edition Garlic Recipe

Having spent many months fermenting hot peppers for sauces, last week I tried an experiment which I happily report was a success. Fermenting is similar to pickling, and it’s super cheap and super simple. Just not quick. In fact, it can take as long as you want it to take. But we’ll come to that in a minute.

You will need: One clean jar/pint glass (no lid necessary). Two heads of fresh, peeled garlic. One chopped onion, white or red. Two roughly chopped sweet peppers (bell peppers will do too). 4% salt, by weight, dissolved in however much water it will take to fill your jar. That’s all.

Simply add the garlic cloves, whole, the onion and the peppers and fill the jar with the salt-water mix. Cover it with cling film or a zip-lock bag and a rubber band, and put it in the back of your cupboard or larder for at least one week. Don’t touch it. Don’t look at it. Don’t talk to or argue with it. Just leave it there to contemplate enlightenment.

Within a day or two the salt will react with the garlic, onion and peppers and the water will turn slightly cloudy. This is normal. As is bubbling. Both of which mean that the fermentation process is active. Some white Kahm yeast may appear, but it’s not mold. Mold will be fluffy, while Kahm yeast will sit like a layer of dust and this can be skimmed or rinsed off at the end of the week. It’s not harmful.

After a week, or a month, or three months, strain the contents of the jar and add to a blender. Add 100ml of cream and two teaspoons of sugar, and salt to taste. Next, brown some chicken fillets. Then add the blended mixture. Simmer until reduced to desired consistency. Serve on rice.That’s it. Nothing complicated, but a special flavour unlike the garlic everyone knows all too well. And, like I said, it’s super cheap. But it tastes super fancy.

Note: As you can see, there is a LOT of garlic in this recipe. And while the fermentation mellows about a third of the strength and pungency of the garlic, it is still a LOT of garlic. A LOT. So be warned. If you have a wedding, funeral or job interview to go to, a date to go on, a partner, pets and/or you are going to be out in public anything up to a year after eating this dish, don’t say I didn’t warn you. All the same, it’s bloody good eating! Oh, and did I mention that it’s super cheap?

Stephen Fahey

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